Navier soars forward with semi-autonomous electric hydrofoil
From electric propulsion to automated control hardware, technology appears to be a big topic at this year's Palm Beach International Boat Show. Perhaps it should be no surprise, then, that a Silicon Valley startup is making its debut in Florida. Founded by a pair of MIT engineers with experience in ocean robotics, aerospace, hydrodynamics and autonomous systems, Navier is looking to make nautical design more high-tech with its self-piloting electric hydrofoil.
Still just in the rendering stages, the Navier 27 will be a hydrofoil tender powered by dual 67-hp (50-kW) electric motors. Available in both hard-roof and cabin varieties, the 27-footer (8.3-m) will travel for around 75 nautical miles (139-km) while gliding over waves up to 4 ft (1.2 m) high on retractable foils developed with input from America's Cup experts. The tender will cruise at a speed of 20 knots (37 km/h) and is capable of topping out over 30 knots (56 km/h). The foils retract for shallow-water navigation.
Navier's rhetoric about "reinventing the boat as we know it" into the "boat of the future" with a "90 percent efficiency increase" feels more than a little overstated for a 75-mile e-boat, especially because just this past month we've looked at two non-foiling electric boats with estimated ranges of 100 nautical miles. What is impressive about Navier's effort, though, is the promise of an advanced autopilot system analogous to contemporary self-driving cars. Navier explains its onboard autopilot will be capable of both speed and course control, making it something like a seaborne version of automotive adaptive cruise control with lane keeping.
The Navier 27 will also employ an active foil control system, aerospace-derived stabilization, hazard alert, sensor-assisted joystick docking and remote monitoring. Much like X Shore, Navier promises its self-piloting tech suite will evolve through software updates, with plans to advance the vessel all the way to full autonomy.
Navier clearly is not ready to raise its foils on the high seas just yet, but those interested in more information and a potential build slot can register on its website, linked below. The Palm Beach show kicked off today and runs through Sunday, March 28.